A session on believing by doing (session of Mr Al Gore, former farmer Vice President, USA in AIM on 8h May 2023).
Sector specific action for GHG mitigation is now gaining momentum. A three-day AIM (Agriculture Innovation Mission) for climate summit between 8th May and 10th May 2023 is show-casing enthusiastic drives in agriculture sector, which are initiated in different parts of world to reduce the GHG emission reduction from agriculture sector. Review of all sessions shall be too long for readers, though each session recording has its own valuable insights, positivity and wisdom. It seems that it is better to summarize one session at a time at different threads. It is not possible to verify the claims made by the presenters, but the confidence, positivity and vibe of their messages needs to be propagated faster on good faith for increasing the participation from 500+ (which was only 275 in Egypt 6 months back) to 50,000 in AIM.
The session with former Vice President of USA is selected not because of his fame and his highly revered contribution in field of climate change but for three reasons: 1. This case study has the potential to become a game changer 2. Thinking globally is not easy but thinking on a global scale and realizing at least one thought on a local scale with potential for replication on a global scale is far more difficult. 3. Such examples are still not very common in the field of climate change. About 35-minute session (it begins at 33 min of the recording) has these all three qualities.
GHG reduction is still now broadly perceived as CO2 (Carbon Di Oxide) reduction because CO2 is the major culprit. However, the real-world speed of CO2 reduction in energy and transport sector is showing that work must also be started in other sectors to offset the worldwide inertia, which is seriously impacting the global CO2 mitigation drives. Executive summary of IPCC AR4 report earlier showed that agriculture is accounted for an estimated emission of 5.1 to 6.1 GtCO2-eq/yr in 2005 (10-12% of total global anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs)). CH4 contributes 3.3 GtCO2-eq/yr and N2O 2.8 GtCO2-eq/yr.
Consequently, now the world is trying to explore the possibilities to reduce CH4 (Methane) emission to create a dent of global GHG concentration rise. Removal of atmospheric methane at global scale at a faster rate shall reduce the rate of accumulation of GHGs in the atmosphere and shall lower the rate of global warming and climate change. Sources of CO2 emission, which involve fossil fuels burning are mostly point sources or line sources (energy generation, industrial process, transport). But most of the sources of CH4 (livestock, rice cultivation, wetlands, biomass burning, legacy waste dumps, sewage) are diffused over larger areas and it is not easy to capture or treat CH4 at the sources. Smarter drives are, therefore, till now being oriented towards removal of atmospheric methane. The significance of the farmer side story presented by Mr. Al Gore is that it shows a possible path for reduction of CH4 from the source. i.e., from agricultural field. Born in a farmer family, his personal experience in family farm indicates field level CH4 reduction is also doable by regenerative farming and by adopting innovations in soil carbon sequestration measures. Regenerative farming is expected to ensure re-habitation and enhancement of surrounding ecosystems. It ensures no tillage, efficient fertilizer application, livestock diet formulation, and manure management. Family-farm experience, which is shared in this session featured actions in all five aspects of regenerative – agriculture. Use of no tillage, self-fertilizing crop-seeds, seaweed as supplement in animal diet, manure management is improving carbon sequestration and serving to 75 families and local Restaurants. The actions taken in this case can be extended by applications of precision agriculture. Precision agriculture is expected to be based on 45 years of 10mx10m global data of farmlands for identification of fields with ideal yield. Decision making by use of precision agriculture is envisioned for maximizing crop productivity. However, here is a caution. Accuracy of such data base shall also largely depend on reliability and heterogeneity of land data maintained in different parts of the world as soil carbon mapping by satellite measurement is still in its infancy. Use of see weed as fodder supplement may also not be a viable option in many parts of the world but suitable alternatives can always be explored. IPCC AR4-WG3 top-down model estimated that the economic mitigation potential for agriculture in 2030 is 70-1260 MtCO2-eq/yr at up to 20 US$/tCO2-eq, and 560-2320 MtCO2-eq/yr at up to 50 US$/tCO2-eq. Accurate measurement of soil carbon in a farm by applications of Artificial Intelligence and smart chips embedded in soil may provide information on soil carbon content and open an additional source of income to farmers as incentives for better carbon capturing. Boosting agricultural economy by GHG reduction is surely an ideal choice. A world with 9 billion co-habitants shall need more food in 2050. Radical changes in agriculture from local to global level by judicial mix of age-old wisdom and AI can lead to sustainable energy and nutrition management. It shall reduce the carbon footprint of present generation.